Chicken Jalfrezi

Chicken Jalfrezi

It’s no secret that I love Indian style curries.  They’re delicious, spicy, and usually pretty healthy (assuming you are making them yourself!).  Yesterday, I shared my recipe for a good gravy base that will have you turning out curry after curry in no time.  Today, I’m going to show you how to use that base to make a dish that will blow your mind!

 If you do not eat meat, fear not!  You can enjoy this as well—simply leave out the chicken and replace with mushrooms (pretty much any veggie would make a good substitute) or paneer.  This can very easily be prepared as vegetarian or even vegan—with not much effort, and no sacrifice of flavor!

My recipe will yield a similar result to what you would get at your local Indian restaurant.  It is a pretty fiery curry which should have a thick gravy (I watered mine down a bit).  Sometimes the restaurants will add some red food coloring to the dish, but I don’t really think that’s necessary when I’m cooking at home.

It is thought that this recipe was invented by the Bengali cooks to appease the British while they occupied India.  Meat leftover from a previous meal was used in a quick and spicy stir-fry, which became a fantastic new dish—thus eliminating wastage of food.  To my understanding (and with Piyush’s help), the name Jalfrezi means “pungently spicy stir-fry” in Bengali, well…that’s probably a rough translation anyway.

From start to finish, this curry can be made in roughly 15 minutes.  The chicken can be marinated ahead of time, which gives it the most flavor, but if you’re in a hurry…don’t worry about it.  It will still taste amazing today…and even better tomorrow!  When I make chicken curries, I prefer to marinate the chicken and cook it on the grill—kind of a home-style Chicken Tikka.

This was taken last spring… I did not prepare the chicken this way for my Jalfrezi recipe, but it would be an awesome idea!

I believe the marinade I used was something like this:

  • 3/4 cup yogurt
  • 1 tbsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. ground cumin
  • 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp. paprika (this shouldn’t be hot.  It’s mostly for color)
  • 1 tsp. ground chile pepper (I use Kashmiri)
  • 2 tsp. ground pepper
  • 1 tbsp. minced fresh ginger
  • 1 tsp. salt, or to taste
  • approximately 1 lb. chicken breast – cut into bite size pieces

Throw all the ingredients in a zip lock bag, give it a nice shake to make sure everything is coated and let it marinate for at least an hour.  Thread the chicken on skewers…and grill.  Easy!

But, like I said…if you’re pressed for time, don’t worry about the marinating or the grilling.  Simply cut up the chicken and start the dish!

Before you start, get some of that curry base out of the freezer.  If you didn’t make the base—why not?!  Actually, it’s okay.  That’s for another recipe though…so you’ll have to wait this one out.  Sorry.

Make sure the base is thawed.  If you didn’t move it to the refrigerator the previous night, you can nuke it, heat it over the stovetop, or even throw it in frozen…probably.  It’ll just take longer and your dish might be a little watery.

This curry will serve 6 people, generously.  Piyush eats 2 or 3 servings in one sitting…and we still had enough to feed both of us dinner the next day.  Each serving of curry is a little under 200 calories!  I believe the exact number I came up with was 193.  Pair that with a cup of rice and you still have a meal under 500 calories (and you’ll be stuffed!).

Chicken Jalfrezi

(inspired by: The Curry Guy)


  • 1 tbsp. vegetable oil (I never use much…add more if you want)
  • 1 medium onion – thinly sliced
  • 2  bell peppers -thinly sliced (all I had was green–red would be a nice pop of color)
  • 1 serrano chile pepper -finely diced (increase the number of chiles for a spicier curry)
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder (more or less depending on how spicy your powder is)
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 7 big garlic cloves -finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp. cumin powder
  • handful of chopped, fresh fenugreek leaves (1 tablespoon dried fenugreek leaves if you don’t have fresh)
  • 2 tbsp. mango chutney (use a couple tsp. sugar if you don’t have this)
  • 1 handful chopped coriander (cilantro) leaves
  • 2 c. curry gravy base (recipe here)
  • salt, to taste
  • pepper, to taste


  • Heat the oil in a pan over medium heat.  Add the chili powder, cumin powder, chile pepper and garlic.  Stirfry until it becomes very fragrant, but not burnt.  Add the onion and cook until it becomes soft and translucent.  Add the bell pepper and chicken to the pan and put the lid on.  Let everything cook for a couple minutes—so the pepper begins to soften.  Toss in the tomato paste and mango chutney and cook a minute or so, until everything is mixed together well.  The curry should start looking a little dry.  At this point, add in the curry gravy.  If everything is looking real dry, add a little water…but because Jalfrezi is supposed to be a thick curry, you don’t have to add water unless things start sticking.  If they start sticking, add about 1/4c. water.
  • Let everything cook together for 5 minutes, add in the fenugreek and coriander leaves, give it a stir and let it cook another two minutes.  Season with salt and pepper.
  • Enjoy this fabulous, spicy curry with a cooling raita, some roti (bread), or rice.

Piyush also told me that there are supposed to be fried onions sprinkled on top for garnish.  I didn’t do all that fanciness though, and it tasted just perfect!  He also liked it so much that he finished his huge portion of rice and curry before I even took a photo of mine.  So much for sitting down to a nice dinner….


9 thoughts on “Chicken Jalfrezi

  1. Yvonne

    Hi Shari,

    My husband and I are eating this as I type, and we have nothing but good things to say!!! I was originally skeptical of the curry gravy base, but I’m a believer now! 😉 Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us.

    1. Shari Post author

      I’m so very happy to hear that you enjoyed the recipe, and the curry base!

      The curry base is definitely one of those secrets that any Indian food lover should know about!

  2. poohalicious

    I don’t know how to thank you! But you are definitely going to get rewarded somehow! I know that! My Easter treat with the Korma and Chicken were a hit! 😀 God bless you!


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